One of the most rewarding exercises I have done in my professional development is to write my own educational credo. It is a process that I completed using Christopher Branson’s framework on “The Self”. Examining “critical choices, pivotal people and defining moments” (McGraw) in my life opened a period of self reflection that was at times soothing and others quite confronting.
But if a person challenges themselves to really think about what it is that drives their behaviour, their thinking, their co-existence with other people then it is also a chance to strip away the “perceived values” that we carry as heavy accessories in our everyday.
“Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them”
(The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen Covey)
This exercise allowed me to reflect on one particular time in my life which was life changing. It involved the passing of my father and the lead up in time to that as he lived with a horrendous cancer. I found myself making decisions based on his dignity, respect for his person and my love for his being. Often decisions were heartbreaking but they were always made with love in my heart and I would like to think an emotional conscience. And with that came a trust he could hold onto as he faced what was happening to him. What grew from this experience was a mixed bag of values but always driven by my responsibility to him. Subconsciously, I was already deciding on values that were of importance to me without intentional reflective thoughts in most cases.
And so, this defining moment and the critical choices I made developed an extensive list of values and this particular exercise asked I reduce them to just four. These values were brought down to commitment, compassion, morality and honesty. A stripping down of what really was important to me to be able to “live with myself” after he passed. The beauty of it all is when I was able to find the “actual values” then I also found the behaviour more acceptable to my conscience. Many times, these values were challenged to behave in ways that would “keep him here longer” but who was I servicing…myself or his dignity?
This experience allowed me to think about these values in my role as educator. From it came a personal credo which may read “generic” to some from a distance but for me, in writing it, each word was reflective of this time and what was important to me to carry from this defining moment. And because of this, I feel it belongs to me and I can arm myself with it when faced by my conscience.
After much self reflection, the following statements have been worded personally to focus on statements of truth to myself in a leadership role. They are:
My Personal Credo:
I believe I am responsible for my actions and I make my own choices motivated only by my conscience.
I believe that treating people with honesty is a display of respecting their dignity and worth.
I believe that honesty will develop trust and reliability in others.
I believe that committing myself to always upholding the truth is an integral part of my being.
I believe that I have to live with my decisions and actions.
I believe in treating every human being with dignity and respect. (Pope John Paul II)
I believe in myself to lead through my words and actions.
I believe that I have to be aware of my actions and words and how they will affect other people.
I believe that we are responsibility for the way others’ see themselves through our interactions with them.
I believe that my time is shared with many people and that it is a gift to share with many.
I believe that I have to be committed in my role as educator and leader.
I believe that I have a responsibility to always strive for my visions and the visions of others.
I believe that I am a living example of my true beliefs.
I believe that my four key values, compassion, commitment, honesty and morality, are an integral part of my leadership manner.
I believe that I am able to make a difference to any person that I come into contact with. I simply choose what difference that would be.
I believe that I represent the “face of God” to others.
I believe that I can always do better, be better and become better as a serving leader.